The Pitfalls in Cloud Adoption

We all tend to be dazzled by the bright and shiny new things, rushing to the adoption of a new technology due to a perception of fast and easy returns on minimal investment. It’s been said that hope is not a strategy, yet when it comes to implementing cloud-based technologies many of the companies we’ve talked with seem to have hope or optimism the foundation for their foray into digital transformation. Hear our CTO, Robert Starmer’s, pointers on what to look for and what to avoid when thinking about how best to adopt a cloud system for maximal value and minimal pain.

Edited Transcript
For those of you that prefer reading, we’ve run the transcript past our editors for a smoother, cleaner read, below.

Often when people start talking about strategy I think we start getting into the weeds. Oh we’re just sort of thinking blue sky and coming up with new ideas that may not have any grounding in reality, but actually, I think strategy is a very important part of any cloud deployment. With any cloud delivery practice, because often we forget about it, we start getting down into the weeds– thinking about the tools rather than thinking about how this is going to apply to the business.

I think we need to really start with an idea and understanding of what it is that we’re trying to accomplish with our cloud. Are we just looking at cost savings? Is it a lift and shift process where we want to get rid of our hardware and not have to deal with some of that low-lying infrastructure anymore? That’s great! That might actually be appropriate! Are we trying to maybe accelerate our time to market, improve the efficiency of our development staff effectively, and get features out more quickly? These are good things. The first part of a strategy is understanding how those pieces fit together to help you define then what tools, what components, what services you need to implement.

The the biggest impact of any cloud deployment is the fact that you’re going to change how your staff interacts. You’re going to change how your developers work. Possibly they need to take on some of the operational tasks. More likely though I find that developers do not want to have to be operators. Often we have to show our operators a new way of consuming resources and managing those resources. Cloud changes the mindset of what resources are and who own the resources. We have to be willing, as an enterprise, to say top to bottom, “we’re going to embrace this new strategy and technology model because if we don’t do that we’re going to find ourselves in some real trouble as the cloud consumption and deployment continues.”

So these pieces really need to fit together effectively to implement our strategy. Implementation of an architecture of an actual strategy are the next steps in the process. But first, we really have to understand what our goals are. We have to make sure that we agree – as a community and as a company – that when we’re talking about a company’s strategy it is not just the tools that are going to be used but how people are going to interact with those tools. What that has to mean in terms of feature acceleration is that it changes how people interact.

As an example, often people think, “oh we’re already doing agile development.” So the development staff often is very very happy to use that model because it means that there’s more flexibility and there’s a greater understanding for how software is developed and delivered. It’s very hard to actually define exactly what software can be written in what period of time– unless you’ve written that code before– because there are so many variables and ways of approaching a problem. Little interactions and bugs that creep into code that are not intentional. The problem comes in when then the the product management staff– the staff that’s trying to understand what features they can talk to their customers about and the sales staff wants to be able to go and sell– often there’s still a question of, “well what date can we release that feature because I want to go tell my customers that this is coming.”

Those sorts of interactions are actually really difficult because the agile process that the development team has decided to use doesn’t map to how the marketing team wants to message that resource. It doesn’t map to how the sales team needs to sell and then be compensated on a new feature. It really is an end-to-end strategy that has to happen to really make cloud and cloud models make sense. So that’s what I want to leave you with. Think about how the strategy fits together because that’s what’s going to define how your business can really get the most value out of your cloud environments.